Stephen Curry vs. Sabrina Ionescu 3-point contest rules explained: Who has the edge?

Stephen Curry and Sabrina Ionescu are known to terrorize their respective NBA and WNBA opponents from behind the arc, and now they get to showcase their talents during the first head-to-head NBA versus WNBA 3-point challenge.

The event, taking place during NBA’s All-Star Weekend from Feb. 16-18 in Indianapolis, will feature five racks of balls per shooter. Each rack will be placed behind the arc and will contain five balls. The first four racks have four game balls and one “money” ball, while the fifth rack (money rack) is all money balls. Additionally, each competitor will have two starry-range shots (shots located well behind the arc). Curry and Ionescu will decide which of the five racks they will earmark as their “money rack.”

Successful game ball shots are worth one point, money balls are worth two and starry-range shots are worth three.

Ionescu will shoot from behind the WNBA-mandated 3-point line with WNBA-sized basketballs, while Curry will shoot from behind the NBA-mandated 3-point line with NBA-sized basketballs.

In the NBA, the 3-point line is 23 feet and 9 inches long at the top of the arc, closing in on 22 feet from the basket in the corners of the court. The WNBA’s arc is slightly shorter at 22 feet and 1.75 inches from the basket at the top and slims to 22 feet in the corners.

After the rules were announced Tuesday, Ionescu took to X, formerly known as Twitter, and said, “I’ll shoot from the NBA line …LETS GET IT!!!!!!!”

Ionescu set a contest record last year — for both the NBA and WNBA — with 37 points in the final round of the WNBA 3-point event. The New York Liberty guard passed Curry and Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton — who both had 31 points in a single round in 2021 and 2023, respectively — in her first career 3-point contest win.

Curry is a two-time winner of the NBA’s 3-point contest (2015, 2021). The Golden State Warriors guard holds the league’s record in all-time made 3s.

“We gotta settle this once and for all,” Curry said last week on X. In less than three weeks, an ultimate champion will be crowned.

Who has the edge?

Despite posting the greatest 3-point shootout performance in WNBA history, Ionescu is a bit of a novice when it comes to the event itself. Her win in 2023 was the only time she’s participated in the competition as a professional, compared to seven appearances for Curry. That experience edge — combined with the fact that Curry will be in midseason form while Ionescu is in her offseason — leads me to side with the Warriors guard this time around.

As fun as it will be to watch the two face off, I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see Curry go up against the real WNBA 3-point shootout GOAT Allie Quigley while she was still playing. — Sabreena Merchant, WNBA staff writer

Where does the prize money go?

Ionescu and Curry are participating for both bragging rights and charity donations. The WNBA and NBA will donate to Ionescu’s SI20 Foundation and Curry’s Eat.Learn.Play nonprofit for each shooter’s time.

Additionally, State Farm will donate a specified amount to the NBA Foundation for each shot Curry and Ionescu make. Every regular 3-point bucket constitutes a $1,000 donation, money-balls are worth a $2,000 donation and starry-range shots made will garner a $3,000 donation.

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(Photo: Noah Graham / NBAE via Getty Images)

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